"This film is an authentic record of real people, living their usual lives. It documents one of several experiments carried on by various state universities -- experiments sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Inc. -- to discover what schools can do to raise the level of living in the communities they serve." Slow moving and sad film which makes the case for education which will improve people's lives directly. Makes the case that people shown in the film need to be instructed in how to farm correctly and what to plant so that they may eat better. Story of mountain people who have farms which are not bountiful. Much mournful music. Shows life in a poor family living in a small wooden house. Wall covered with newspapers to keep out drafts. The pregnant mother prepares corn pone cooked in pork grease and pieces of pork for breakfast. Narrator explains that these children don't get enough and the right things to eat. The house has signs over the doorways like "We are Thankful". Voiceover about the irrelevance of school books to the lives of these poor farm children. "The sons of the sons of the men who clear it [the land] still plant the corn from the same old seeds.. . their lives set in old patterns, in worn-out grooves, new ideas are not easy to come by when learning passes from mouth to mouth, from father to son." "Corn and pork, corn pone and pork sausage and pork gravy. The hog slaughtered in the fall must last the winter. The hog provides the meat for the sausage and the grease for the gravy. Often there isn't enough to eat, never the right things to eat. No green vegetables and milk; no calcium for teeth and bones; no vitamins to prevent rickets, scurvy. Weak bones from poor food; poor food from poor land. Kids growing up to the same years of hunger; babies being born without a chance of strong bodies. These are good people, proud people. Sons and daughters of pioneers, cousins of the people who built America." "They use the same books that all the other children in the state use, the same books as the children use in mining towns, in mill towns, and in great industrial centers. Some of them are good books. But they talk about another kind of world. The books do not tell of how to rotate crops and what makes balanced farming. They do not name the way lessons can be applied to the mountain people." "Next year, the children will study materials prepared in their own communities to teach them facts about soil and food along with reading and writing. . . .The children must learn a new way. The land is tired of corn, but small plots of it could be enriched for raising vegetables. Children must learn to raise goats for milk. They must learn to reforest the hills. It's too late now for the old ones. The children must learn."
DIRECTOR: Willard Van Dyke; WRITER: Spencer Pollard; CAMERA: Bob Churchill; EDITOR: Irving Lerner; NARRATOR: Myron McCormick; MUSIC: Fred Stewart
An absolute FIND on this site, The Children Must Learn is an "authentic record" of the education of the children of the Appalchians. Shot in total montage style (the director must've watched a lot of Eisenstein) the film offers beautiful tableus and unbelievable imagery. Not really too sure of the film's main point (Children must learn education to toil the land rather then thrifty things) comes too clear, though. With the whole shooting style, and it's message, it's hard not to think this is somewhat of a Communist recruitment film. (insert your own redneck joke here)
Of particular interest is the music, which is sort of acapella bluegrass, with the odd guitar thrown in at occasional points. It can either be grating or fascinating (or both) to listen to.
A MUST see on this site, I was caught totally off guard.